Canadian Rockies Roadtrip:
Originally Posted November 2010
Like most road-trips I ended up with the feeling that we spent too much time in the car and yet not enough time on the road to see every-thing I had hoped to see. By the end we drove about 4000 miles in 12 days, we covered alot of territory and came away with some awesome images!
This last August Val and I hit the road with a vague notion of our destination somewhere out west. Our first stop was Medora, North Dakota. Situated on the south end of Teddy Roosevelt National Park, Medora, is the gateway to one of the midwest’s best kept secrets. For those who have never been to Teddy Roosevelt Park you should put it on your list of places to go. The park teems with wildlife including; bison, elk, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, prairie dogs, wild turkeys, jackrabbits, golden eagles, wild horses and more. The landscape is rich and colorful. For hotel accommodations book your hotel room at the recently completely rebuilt Rough Rider Hotel in Medora.
Without a doubt these hotel accommodations were the best we found anywhere on our trip and they were by no means the most expensive. During most of the trip we camped at various campgrounds about every other night.
After one short morning of photography at Teddy Roosevelt we pressed on to the west. Our next destination was a quick and rather unproductive trip into Glacier National Park which was disappointing because of the crowds and road construction. We decided to continue to our next goal; Banff/Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.
Once we crossed into Canada we elected to take Canadian Highway 40 north to Banff Park. This road is a gravel back road that is also called a “Range Road”. It meandered through the foothills of the Rockies and followed a wide river valley through the back country-it was a great way to approach the park and offered many photographic opportunities along the way.
Nearing Banff park we took Trans Canada 1 to the Icefields Parkway which connects Banff andJasper National Parks. For the next 5-6 days we drove up and down the Parkway to a variety of destinations. I don’t have the space here to recount each and every place so I will list a few highlights:
My first recommendation is to travel the entire length of the Parkway. 20 years ago I travelled to Banff Park but did not make the drive all the way to Jasper, that was a mistake.
Moraine Lake is north of Banff about 15 miles, just outside Lake Louise Village. Well worth the drive and short hike to the lookout over the lake.
The Bow River Parkway follows the Bow River for much of the southern portion of the drive. Great views of the river valley and mountains. Stop at any of the numerous pullouts and walk out onto the river flats for spectacular photographic opportunities.
In Jasper Park don’t miss Maligne Lake, the ferry boat ride is worth the money, it will take you to the far end of the lake for spectacular views of the mountains and islands. Take the last ferry of the day for the best light.
Don’t miss the Mount Edith Cavell Drive to the Angel Glacier and Cavell Pond with its floating ice chunks from several glaciers that surround it -great photo opps.
When we left the Park we drove east on Highway 11 towards Rocky Mountain House, this route took us along the Saskatchewan River. About 30 miles outside of the park the Saskatchewan River is dammed to create Lake Abraham. This area was one of the pleasant surprises on the trip and resulted in some great photographs. There are numerous pullouts and side roads along this 22 mile long lake, take any one of the side roads for a great vista of this beautiful mountain lake.
The prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan offered some great views and photographic opportunities. The side trip to Prince Albert National Park was disappointing as we did not have enough time to thoroughly explore and canoe into the back country where the real beauty lies.
This is nowhere near a complete list of all the places we visited but hopefully I have given you a few ideas.